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Tweeting Art Deco Leeds

I wrote up my overall experiences curating the [twitter.com profile] PeopleofLeeds Twitter account a couple of weeks ago, and followed that up with a post containing some of the pictures I had shared of local Headingley landmarks. But the real theme of my week on the account was Art Deco Leeds, so this post rounds off the story by recording some of the pictures I shared on that topic. I'm not including absolutely every picture I took or tweeted here, as that would get a bit much, but these are the highlights of my Art Deco week.

We'll start close to home with the group of houses I live in. I decided it probably wouldn't be a very good idea to put up a picture of my own house, as it would then mean advertising to burglars that it was empty whenever I tweeted about being out and about for the rest of the week - and in any case my house is difficult to photograph well because it is north-facing, so the facade is constantly in shadow. So I posted up pictures of some neighbouring west-facing houses on Grove Road instead, making it very clear that none of them was mine. I did share some pictures of the interior of my house, though, including a copy of the advert from when they were originally sold, which was given to me by the previous owner when I bought the house:

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Those are not the only Art Deco buildings in Headingley, though. At various points later on in the week I shared some others. These houses on Ash Gardens do not have the characteristic flat roofs, but the curved 'sun-trap' bay windows are just like the ones on my own house. Notice also the 'floating' porch overhangs over the front door, with no external support - another characteristic Art Deco feature, which had only just become technically possible in the era due to the development of reinforced concrete beams which could support them if extended backwards into the building.


On Twitter, posting these pictures got me into conversation with a former student, who had lived in a similar one on an adjoining road. He said that any original interior features had been stripped out of their house when it was converted for student use, but shared a nice picture of a snowman which he and his housemates had made in the front garden.

Not far away on North Lane are various Deco-esque shops:

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The Beyond Bronze / Daniel Hayton pair look Deco from the front, with their white-painted rendering and geometric stepped moulding, but from the side it's clear that their façades have been grafted onto rather older Yorkshire stone cottages. So it looks like they were given a fashionable upgrading in the 1930s.

Meanwhile, standing between Cardigan Road and Chapel Lane is a set of modernist flats. I don't know exactly how old they are, but judging from other buildings I have seen in a similar style, I would guess very late twenties, possibly very early thirties. They are sort of proto-Decom from a period when curves had not yet become de rigueur, but clean geometric lines and white rendering were already well established.


Headingley's largest Art Deco houses are tucked away on a cul-de-sac called Castle Grove Avenue, and look like this:

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It's a pity that so many of their owners have chosen to enclose the front-facing sun balconies in conservatory-style plastic windows, although I do understand their reasoning, given the Leeds climate. But I'm glad that at least one pair of balconies has remained open, showing off their original ocean liner look. Still, lovely as those houses are, they are mere hovels compared to a some of the really luxurious Deco properties which I visited on the final day of my [twitter.com profile] PeopleofLeeds week.

Before that, though, I shared some pictures from the University campus, starting of course with the Parkinson building where I work:

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This photo of the interior of the Brotherton library also got me into an interesting conversation, with the man who had switched on the giant Art Deco chandelier in the middle of the main round reading room that very morning. He said that it always takes a few minutes each morning for the light to 'warm up', and we agreed that that was only appropriately respectful in an institution packed full of the knowledge of centuries. You wouldn't want to shock it awake each morning, after all.


On the Thursday, I delivered a talk about Augustus at Leeds City Museum, and then proceeded to wander round town taking photos of Art Deco buildings in the city centre. These included what I could capture of the Civic Hall (but not the whole building, as an ice rink was standing where I would have needed to be to get the whole thing), the Queen's Hotel, Debenham's and the old bus station on Vicar Lane:

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But the grand climax of my week was the Sunday, when I armed myself with my SatNav and a list of every other Art Deco building I knew of in Leeds, and drove around the city visiting and photographing each one. I began in north Leeds, with these houses on Northolme Crescent - again not flat-roofed, but with distinctive sun-trap bay windows and huge tall windows on the stairs very much like the one on my own house:


I then visited these two different types of flats just north of the ring road - the pink ones on the Otley Road just beyond the roundabout, and the yellow ones (of which there were literally hundreds) on New Adel Lane, which curves around Lawnswood Cemetery:

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Next, I stopped off at Wensley Drive in Meanwood, where there are two rows of these modernist houses facing each other across the road:


Not far away, just off Potternewton Lane, is Riviera Gardens, where the very name strives to evoke a sun-kissed Mediterranean paradise. It is entirely lined with house of one or other of the two following types - probably about 50 semi-detached pairs of them in all, some of which spill out of the end of the road onto Potternewton Lane itself:

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But my next stop was a far grander property - easily the grandest Art Deco house in Leeds, in fact. This is on the ring road again, but to the north-east of the city this time, near to the roundabout with Wetherby Road, and just round the corner from a little cul-de-sac called Brandon Close.:

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It's hard to even capture the extent of that one in a still picture - you really have to stand there and walk around a bit to take it in. The use of different heights for different parts of the building is obviously very characteristically Deco, and I think helps to emphasise how large it is by breaking it into lots of distinct individual parts.

By that stage it was lunch-time, and I had cunningly arranged matters so that the next two buildings on my tour were eating establishments. I saved my appetite for the second, though, and merely had a quick drink and comfort-stop in the first:


That McDonald's is at the junction between Oakwood Lane and Easterly Road, and until about 10 years ago was the Oakwood Pub, apparently.

But my intention was to go on to eat at the Oakwood Fish Bar, which is at the other end of Oakwood Lane just opposite Roundhay Park. This is set into a much earlier building, but had its façade redecorated into the 1930s, and that redecoration now has Grade II listed status:

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Unfortunately, though, I messed up my timing, and managed to arrive here 15 minutes after they closed. So I was denied a taste of their reputedly excellent chips, and had to make do with a nearby cafe instead. Oh well, it was perfectly nice, and did the job of fortifying me ready for a drive right across and out of the far side of Leeds, to Batley, a small town just beyond Morley. There, my destination was this house on Batley Field Hill - nearly as splendid as the one on the north-east ring road, and certainly a little bit curvier, but ultimately not quite as large:


My final stop, just as the light began thinking about fading, and an excellent finale for my tour, was the New Inn in Gildersome, just on the other side of Morley:

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I didn't even know about this one until I started researching locations for this tour, but as you can see it is resplendently Deco with its various different levels, the balcony and floating porch over the front door, the original steel-framed windows and the tall stair-case window over the back door. Inside, a very friendly bar-lady served me an orange and mango juice, while I enjoyed the 1930s wooden flooring and fireplaces, but felt it would be too intrusive to take photos of them while people were sat all around me enjoying a quite Sunday afternoon drink.

Meanwhile, outside the sun set on my day of Art Deco, and my week as the Twitter face of Leeds. As I said in my previous post, it had its pros and cons, but the prompt to finally get myself organised and visit all these buildings systematically was very definitely one of the pros.

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( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 23rd, 2013 12:50 pm (UTC)
I can vouch for the loveliness of the fish and chips from that chippy, and I have also seen drive by drug dealing in that McDonalds car park.

I really want to go to the New Inn though - looks lovely.
Feb. 24th, 2013 12:01 am (UTC)
I have house envy of the houses on Castle Grove Avenue - lovely.
Jan. 13th, 2014 08:35 pm (UTC)
Very interesting blog. Lots of Art Deco Leeds I didn't know about. That's my house on Wensley Drive with the black lines. The attached link shows an image of my house just after it was built. There's plenty more interesting pictures on Leodis. http://www.leodis.net/display.aspx?resourceIdentifier=1956&DISPLAY=FULL

Batty Matty
Feb. 5th, 2014 03:44 pm (UTC)
Art deco Leeds
Loving these photos. (I grew up near the Oakwood chippy.) You have (thankfully) omitted to show that house on the Ring Road at Horsforth, the one with the neo-Georgian bowed windows inset into its classic art-deco design. Ouch!!!!
Feb. 5th, 2014 05:31 pm (UTC)
Re: Art deco Leeds
Thanks for your comment! I had actually forgotten all about writing this post, so getting a comment on it has had the nice side-effect of prompting me to re-read it and enjoy remembering my week going round and photographing all these buildings. I will have to look out for the house on the Ring Road which you mention, though I will not get too excited about it from what you say.
Vikki Brown
May. 30th, 2014 01:25 pm (UTC)
Art Deco in Guiseley
I love this post and I frequently re-read it. I wondered if you knew about the Art Deco House in Guiseley? Here's a link to when it was for sale - http://www.wowhaus.co.uk/2011/07/21/on-the-market-1930s-art-deco-four-bedroomed-house-in-guiseley-leeds-west-yorkshire/ It looks like it's on Highway, but you can only see the back of it on google streetview. I think there might be a couple more up that way but I can't find them right now!
Tim Martin
Jun. 14th, 2019 05:37 pm (UTC)
Love it!!
Great blog post. I love the art deco houses around headingley and seeing a nicely curated list of what leeds has to offer is brill!

Time to update my rightmove alerts!!!
Jun. 14th, 2019 06:35 pm (UTC)
Re: Love it!!
You're welcome - glad you liked it. :-)
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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